Fine Cartoon Art

exaggerated, in a good way

Robert Williams Crashes the Whitney Biennial

Posted by jtebeau on March 1, 2010

"Astrophysically Modified Real Estate" by Rob't Williams

A heathen on the hallowed grounds of real American Art? Robert Williams, former disciple of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, he of Rat Fink fame, is exhibiting in the Whitney Biennial. (thanks, Whitney!) Which is, as we know, real Art. From the NY Times:

“Small gouaches by the cartoon artist Robert Williams — “Astrophysically Modified Real Estate” is the title of one — introduce a surrealist spin to the second-floor ensemble. And with a group of snapshot-style family photographs by Nina Berman, domesticity goes dark.”

I love Robert Williams’ work. I do. It has everything: meaning, sub-meaning, skillful execution, witty titles and sub-titles, allegory, pathos, personal vision, an attempt to explain the human condition, etc. But the thing is, the folks who often decide what “art” is, at times disparage his work (or don’t even know who he is). And why? Because he comes from a background of cartooning and self-admittedly “lowbrow” art. Well, Picasso, at heart, considered himself a caricaturist (look it up), and De Kooning was a sign maker. Hey, if it says something, and it’s well-executed visual representation, can we just call it art? Before the guy is dead, I mean. (see: Rockwell, N., the Wyeths,  and Hirschfeld, A.)

Here are a few snaps I took from Williams’ recent exhibition at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery in Chelsea, NYC. Enjoy. Thanks for the great show, Tony!

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One Response to “Robert Williams Crashes the Whitney Biennial”

  1. […] A truly fine cartoon artist breaks the barrier into one of the most prestigious shows in the art world. I’ve written a bit about this on my new blog Fine Cartoon Art. […]

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